A Coleraine woman is backing Tesco and Cancer Research UK’s £10 million project to cut the number of cancer deaths in Northern Ireland.
Local cancer survivor, Lynsey Jamieson from Portstewart, joined staff at the Coleraine store on Saturday to signal the start of the ‘charity of the year’ partnership just as a new survey reveals an alarming ignorance of cancer symptoms in Northern Ireland. Tesco plans to raise £10 million to fund 32 early diagnosis research projects across the UK, including Northern Ireland, and will launch a new in-store customer awareness campaign.
As a result of the new partnership Cancer Research UK leaflets on the early signs of cancer will be on display at store checkouts and will be available to the millions of customers who pass through each week.
Lynsey, who was successfully treated for cancer, backed an ambitious ‘shopping list’ of goals for the two organisations, with helping to ‘beat cancer’ firmly at the top.
“I’m so excited to be launching this partnership between Cancer Research UK and Tesco,” Lynsey said. “ I’m one of the lucky ones. Having survived cancer, I want to live every day to the full. All too often cancer is detected further down the line when effective treatment becomes more difficult. If you have an appointment, please keep it – it could save your life.”
Jean Walsh, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Northern Ireland, said: “We’re delighted to have Lynsey launch our Charity of the Year partnership with Tesco. Her experience really brings home how important early diagnosis of cancer is.
“If patients are diagnosed when cancer is still in its early stages, before it has had a chance to spread to other parts of the body, treatment is more likely to be successful.
“Our new report shows how much more we have to do to raise awareness about the early signs of cancer. Now, thanks to Tesco’s support, our scientists can focus on even more research to find out how we can get cancer diagnosed sooner and help many more people survive in the future.
”The launch coincides with the publication of Cancer Research UK’s new survey, which has been funded by Tesco. It reveals shocking results for Northern Ireland with as many as three quarters of people unable to identify basic warning signs of caner.
Every year, around 8,070 people are diagnosed with cancer in Northern Ireland – that means every hour one person will be diagnosed. Sadly, around 3,810 people in Northern Ireland lose their lives to the disease annually.
Lynsey’s cancer fight so inspirational
“BY funding research into earlier diagnosis and raising awareness among their staff and customers, Tesco and Cancer Research UK will be helping more people like me have more time with their families.”
Those were the brave words of 26-year-old, Lynsey Jamieson, from Portstewart who very publicly backed the £10 million campaign when she attended the launch at Tesco, Coleraine, at the weekend.
Despite being the daughter of renowned local press photographer, Mark Jamieson, Lynsey has never before placed herself in the public eye but wanted others to know that the word cancer does not have to mean a death sentence - if you don’t ignore the warning signs.
Lynsey was just 22-years-old when she was told she had cervical cancer.
She went to her GP in 2008 complaining of irregular bleeding — never dreaming she would have the same condition that claimed her mother’s life aged just 37.
“I had no idea it was so serious,” she said.
“My mum had gone through so much pain but I had none of that. I just had a bit of irregular bleeding which I didn’t think was right so I thought I should get it checked out.”
Lynsey’s GP referred her for a biopsy at the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine and — still unaware how serious her condition was — she went alone to her appointment.
“They examined me and said straight away that it didn’t look good. They sent my biopsy away and it normally takes three days to come back but the results were back the next afternoon because it was treated as an emergency.
“I don’t really remember that much about finding out I had cervical cancer because it is all such a blur, so much happened with all the appointments I had to go to,” she revealed.
Determined she would beat the illness, Lynsey endured a gruelling operation, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
However, before she began her treatment, she travelled to a hospital in London where her eggs were removed and stored, giving her the chance to have children in the future.
“I didn’t have to think about that at all and hopefully one day I will be able to have a family,” she explained.
“I was diagnosed in May and had a full radical hysterectomy in the July. My recovery was pretty quick and I started the radiotherapy and chemotherapy in November.
“I had 24 sessions of radiotherapy every day between Monday and a Friday and six sessions of chemotherapy where I had to go up to the City Hospital every Thursday for six weeks and stay overnight.
“The doctors were happy enough after the surgery but the radiotherapy and chemotherapy were just to blast my body and make sure there were no traces of the cancer left.”
Lynsey continued: “My mum was misdiagnosed. She was told she had irritable bowel syndrome and was even told she had depression. “They told me I was very lucky because it was caught so early. I’m so lucky I went to the doctor when I did and I would tell anyone who has any concerns about their health to go to their GP because I did and it saved my life.
“I’ve been through a lot and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family and the doctors and nurses. Everyone was brilliant.”
She added: “My advice to anyone is: ‘listen to your body’ and if you are experiencing any unusual symptoms get them checked. We are all so busy these days, it can be hard to find the time, but it is so important... It saved my life.”